Employing trainee dental nurses or dental technicians

Much of a dental nurse's or dental technician's training is carried out on the job, so we regularly get calls and emails about what tasks someone in training can carry out before they’re registered with us, and what responsibilities their employer has.

How do you define a student/trainee dental nurse or dental technician?

They are either:

  • employed and enrolled or waiting to start on a recognised programme that will lead to GDC registration, or
  • studying on a programme that leads directly to GDC registration.

I employ a trainee, what are my responsibilities?

Before appointing an individual to work as a trainee, you should:

  • Ensure the individual is capable of enrolling on a course recognised for registration.
  • Identify appropriate courses leading to registration.
  • Allow and require the trainee to enrol on a recognised programme, and meet the obligations that are required of the course.
  • Identify a supervising GDC registrant and ensure they carry out the necessary supervision in accordance with the Guidance for employers, supervising registrants and educational course providers.
  • Facilitate and support the trainee to complete the programme.

Do I need to let the GDC know if someone I employ is in training?

No you are not required to let the GDC know as we do not register trainee dental nurses or dental technicians. However, GDC registrants who employ, manage and/or supervise students/trainees risk fitness to practise proceedings if they fail to comply with this guidance or with the Standards for the dental team​.

What must an induction cover?

Before the trainee dental nurse or technician undertakes any duties in the practice or laboratory, they must receive a formal structured induction, which should include training regarding patient safety and confidentiality; infection control; the protection of vulnerable children and adults; and how to deal with medical emergencies.

What does this mean day-to-day?

  • The trainee dental nurse or technician must not undertake exposure prone procedures until they have the appropriate vaccinations (if applicable) as required to practise. Please refer to the relevant health protection in your country for further information.
  • A named supervising registrant must take full responsibility for providing direct supervision of the individual trainee. However, according to the ability and progress of the trainee, supervision may be delegated (if appropriate) to other GDC registrants. The named supervising registrant will continue to be accountable overall for the trainee.
  • The employer must ensure that the individual trainee keeps a log book of training they receive (including information about the induction), which is regularly signed off by the designated supervisor.

Does the trainee have to have indemnity?

Trainee/student dental nurses or dental technicians don't have to have indemnity as they would not be registered with the GDC. However the employer/supervising registrant must have indemnity as they are responsible for the student's work.

We also advise that employer/supervising registrant check their policy to ensure they are covered to train or supervise staff that a training towards gaining a qualification.

What if they fail their exam?

The student/trainee dental nurse or dental technician must normally achieve their award or qualification and register with the GDC within the normal duration of the course, or up to one year thereafter.

For example, if a training course is two years and the trainee fails to pass their necessary examinations, they have up to one year following the end of their course to take any necessary re-sits.

How long does a student/trainee dental nurse or technician be employed before they must enrol on a programme leading to GDC registration?

We say that a student/trainee dental nurse or technician must begin their programme within two years of commencing employment.